Matthew Bietz —  July 8, 2007 — Leave a comment

Uncle BobI got back from North Dakota earlier this week after Grandma Mary’s funeral. And, in another blow to our family, Uncle Bob (Grandma Mary’s brother) died 6 days after she did. My parents and I were on the way to visit him in the hospital in Langdon, but when we arrived, we found out that he had passed about 15 minutes earlier. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for his funeral.

Getting to North Dakota was no fun either. I was supposed to fly up on Friday, June 29, but I woke up to discover that my flight had been canceled. The earliest I could get re-booked was Saturday afternoon. I’d still be able to get to Grandma’s prayer service and funeral, but I missed my Aunt Elsie’s ordination Saturday morning. On Saturday, my flight from San Diego to Minneapolis was fine, but then they canceled my Minneapolis to Grand Forks leg at the last minute. Luckily my Uncle Ross and Aunt Lila and their family had just flown in to Minneapolis from a wedding, and were driving to Walhalla (400+ miles), so I was able to catch a ride with them. We arrived in Walhalla around 5:30 Sunday morning.

The funeral and related events were intense and wonderful and overwhelmingly sad. For me, the most meaningful and memorable part of the weekend occurred after the visitation and prayer service Sunday night. We were still at the church, and Melanie and Dad started playing folk songs on violin and guitar in the sanctuary where Grandma was laying. Soon Mom joined in on one piano, and Aunt Elsie on the other. And the rest of the family and some friends joined in playing and dancing and singing old songs. Making music together has always been such a huge part of our family, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to say goodbye to Grandma.

My family has a flair for pomp and circumstance, and Grandma’s funeral was no exception. The family and clergy processed to and into the church accompanied by a bagpiper, although Grandma would have been mad that as a result we started the funeral 20 minutes late. After the funeral, the bagpiper also led us from the church to the cemetery for the burial service.

4626 MissionAfter all of that, I’d love to have some time to recuperate, but life keeps coming. On my calendar:

  • Close on our new house on the 11th. Move in on the 16th.
  • Fly to cousin Nathan’s wedding in Fargo at the end of the month.
  • Draft of the dissertation by August 1.

Wish me luck!

Matthew Bietz


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